A paper co-authored by Assistant Professor of Psychology Keelah Williams was recently published online in the journal Evolution and Human Behavior. Titled “Sex differences in friendship preferences,” the article was written with fellow researchers at Oklahoma State University and Arizona State University. It presents their findings from a series of studies about the qualities men and women seek in their same-sex friends.
The researchers argue that across evolutionary history, men’s and women’s friendships have served somewhat distinct functions, and the qualities sought in modern-day friends continue to reflect those evolved preferences to some degree.
They considered the qualities associated with the recurrent challenges faced by men and women and examined whether the specific qualities people prefer in friends differ by sex in ways consistent with such a functional account of friendship.
In three separate studies, Williams and her co-authors looked at the specific friend characteristics participants prefer in their ideal same-sex friends, whether those qualities are present in participants’ actual same-sex best friends, and how participants prioritized certain friend qualities.